A download manager is a computer program dedicated to the task of downloading (and sometimes uploading) possibly unrelated stand-alone files from (and sometimes to) the Internet for storage. Some download managers can also be used to accelerate download speeds by downloading from multiple sources at once. Although web browsers may have download managers incorporated as a feature, they are differentiated by the fact that they do not prioritize accurate, complete and unbroken downloads of information. While some download managers are fully fledged programs dedicated to downloading any information over one or more protocols (e.g. http), many are integrated into installers or update managers and used to download parts of a specific program (or set of programs), examples include Google and Adobe's update managers.
Most download managers come with a features like video and audio grabbing from popular sites like YouTube etc., They also support website grabbing. Queue processing is another important feature of download managers. They also have the ability to pause and resume downloads, and impose speed restrictions as well. This features come very useful in regions where power failures are frequent. Additionally, most of the commercial download managers can download following user planned schedules and download accordingly. A few download managers claim to increase the download speed by a factor of many times.
Download managers also have very tight integration with browsers. Mostly they do this by installing an extension to the user's browser.
Related to download managers are two other breeds of Internet programs, file-sharing peer-to-peer applications (eMule, BitTorrent, Gnutella) and stream recorders (such as StreamBox VCR). While download managers are designed to give users greater control over downloads, some downloaders are created to give that control to content distributors instead. Some software companies, for example Adobe, provide such downloaders for downloading software on their own site. Presumably this increases reliability and reduces their technical support costs. A possible reason is increasing the control over redistribution of their software (even when the software is freeware).
Download acceleration, also known as multipart download, is a term for the method employed by software such as download managers to download a single file by splitting it in segments and using several simultaneous connections to download these segments from a single server.
The reason for doing so is to circumvent server side limitations of bandwidth per connection. Because in normal networking situations all individual connections are treated equally, rather than actual file transfers, multiple connections yields an advantage on saturated links over simple connections, both in terms of total bandwidth allocation and resilience. Many servers, however, implement a maximum number of simultaneous connections per client in order to mitigate this.
This is not to be confused with segmented downloading, which allows a client to download segments of a file simultaneously from multiple servers.